Israel Roundup: Coronavirus Spreads, Election Looming

  • The policy of shutdown affects tourism in Israel, which is an important source of its economy.
  • Nine South Koreans visiting Israel were discovered to have contacted the Coronavirus.
  • Elections are scheduled for March 2, and already, there is talk of a fourth successive election.

Israel has closed its borders to tourists from Asian countries to include Japan and South Korea. Last week, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand were included on this list with China. Closing the borders to these countries is almost impossible considering that there are always people from these countries visiting on business or on their everyday jobs in embassies.

Public spaces being disinfected in South Korea.

Thailand is strongly opposed to the restriction on tourism. The coronavirus, which caused shutdown in China, is now closing tourism to and from all Asian countries. The policy of shutdown affects tourism in Israel, which is an important source of its economy. Almost all the nations in the world have been exposed to Coronavirus, even though many of these countries, including America, are not making it public.

America has tourists visiting from Asian countries just like Israel. Americans each day are coming to Israel.  The shutdown may not be effective to stop the spread of coronavirus to Israel or any country in the world.  The mortality rate of Corona is below 10%, which makes it more a nuisance than a threat of mass destruction.

A group of 39 South Korean Pilgrims visited Israel and returned to South Korea.  Nine amongst these 39 South Koreans were discovered to have contacted the Coronavirus. These people were touring all over Israel, exposing Israelis connected with their tour to the virus. Israel is tracing their itinerary and attempting to track out Israelis which may have been exposed to the virus in hotels and at other places. It is still unsure if the South Koreans contacted the virus before or after their trip.

Israelis returning from these Asian countries are placed in self-quarantine for two weeks. Israel cannot close its borders from tourists from these countries that want to return home to determine if they were affected by the virus before entering Israel. Eleven of the fifteen Israelis quarantined in Japan on the Diamond Princess cruise ship have returned to Israel. The four that were discovered to have the virus remain in Japan for treatment.

The Coronavirus is already called a world crisis. It seems that it cannot be completely limited to China, since China is part of the world like all other countries. The world has become a small place with tourism and technology. China and the Asian countries near China are for sure at greater risks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and opposition leader Benny Gantz are set to do electoral battle, again, on March 2.

However, even Americans may be at risks that Coronavirus has already been discovered in California. Italy has identified 62 patients. The world is one family, and it is difficult even for Israel to separate from the world. U.S. President Donald Trump wants to build a wall on the southern border, which he hopes will be successful in keeping out illegal immigrants from America. However, no country can build a wall to prevent Coronavirus from entering its borders without completely isolating itself from the rest of the world.

Elections in Israel are scheduled for March 2.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will again to on trial for corruption in the middle of March. Whether his conviction will cause him to step down is still undetermined. Also, opposition leader Benny Gantz is being pulled into a court case over his handling of his business before beginning to run as Prime Minister.

Most polls have Gantz ahead of Netanyahu, but it is still close. Gantz and Netanyahu still have not been able to get together, which may create a problem for Gantz reaching a majority mandate to make a government. Gantz has made public that he will not include the United Arab List in his government.  He will need Likud to join him to make a united coalition. Already, there is talk about a fourth elections if there will be no compromise between Likud and Blue and White.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites.

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